The issue of socialization usually comes up in many conversations about the pros and cons of homeschool. Many opponents of homeschooling use socialization as the primary argument against homeschooling. However, I personally find the socialization issue to be a strong argument FOR homeschooling.
Socialization is the ability to behave in such a way that is acceptable to society. In order to do this our children must be exposed to a variety of experiences and a broad array of relationships with people of all ages. In other words, they need to be exposed to the real world. In a traditional school setting kids spend 180 days a year in a classroom with other children of the same age and mostly the same maturity and ability levels. These years are not at all representative of the real world. In fact, at no other time in a person's life will their daily interactions with people be limited to 25-30 other people of the same age. A classroom setting also severely limits a child's exposure to real world experiences. The cost and logistics of taking field trips make frequent outings impossible. As a result, most of the learning takes place within the confines of a classroom instead of through hands-on, engaging activities.
Homeschooled children, on the other hand, have more opportunities to experience real world encounters. Regular participation in homeschool groups, which are now located in nearly every community, provides opportunities for interaction with other children. Most of these events include children of all ages as well as their parents and, often, grandparents. As a result, the children learn to relate to old, young, and in between in all types of settings. To build compassion and generosity in our children, homeschool groups often participate in service projects, in which the children find ways to give to their community or even needy groups around the world. Other opportunities include more educational field trips which allow for hands-on learning, academic competitions such as spelling bees, holiday parties, recognition of achievements, and various projects such as newsletters and yearbooks that require teamwork.
It is through this broad array of life experiences, and under the guidance of loving parents and other adults in our their lives, that our children will develop the skills and values that allow them to be productive and valuable members of society.